What can Duterte, Government Officials and Youth alike can learn from Confucius.


The Philippine was used to be a generation of morality, love and mercy. Which is evident during the first EDSA People Power where all the nation witnessed it as Peaceful Revolution. However ethical virtues of each Filipinos became eroded through time to time with numerous factors including the aftermath of 2016 Presidential Election. Apparently, I will only focus only on its impact upon the youth generation of today just for the sake of simplicity. 



President Duterte won the 2016 Presidential Election which makes his popularity spread all over voters and non voters alike. Many Individuals, especially the younger generation, praised and adored him especially his iron fist which symbolizes his preferred leadership. But not all understand the Philosophy of that President Duterte wherein he is applying a Machiavellian type of leadership who were pioneered by Niccolo Machiavelli in his Book entitled “The Prince” during the Enlightenment Period. Some of Machiavellian Principle which adopted by the Duterte Administration includes:

“It is better to be feared than to be loved”

“The end justify the means”

“The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.”


The principles seem convincing after all but the effects in the society was somewhat gigantic in a negative sense, simply because based from my observation, many younger people are becoming apathy from the happenings especially the Duterte’s wage of war on drugs wherein many individuals, innocent and old alike are the possible victims indefinitely. However, let me show you another type of philosophy in running government affairs. Confucius was the best in this classic:

“He who conducts government with virtue may be likened to the North Star, which, seated in its place, is surrounded by multitudes of other stars.”


According to Huang (1997), “The simile implies a virtuous ruler who, seated in his court and guiding the nation with his own moral excellence, is revered and obeyed by all the people.” but the question remains what constitute a virtue? Huang also pointed out that in order to implement humane government, the Master (Confucius) strongly advocates “Rule by virtue and the rituals” instead of “rule by decrees and punishments,” which means that, above all else, the ruler should be well cultivated in virtue himself so that he may set an example for the people to follow. Additionally, the word “Virtue” itself was somewhat vague but in layman’s term it is common sense, we can actually termed it with sincerity, humility, respectfulness, courtesy and so on as long as it is good alone not good because only to benefit the end but also the means. Regarding Duterte and Machiavelli use of punishments, Confucius himself has an answer to it:

“If you govern them with decrees and regulate them with punishments, the people  will evade them but will have no sense of shame. If you govern them with virtue and regulate them with rituals, they will have a sense of shame and flock to you.”

The statement above is self-explanatory already apparently, Confucius was just reminding each rulers that they should serve the people as if they are their families by correcting them in a virtuous way so that they themselves will realize their mistakes and thus be ashamed of it. For we know for instance that internal (i.e. mind) correctness are far more effective that brought about long-lasting change as a being when compared to that of external (i.e. physical) discipline which the bruises or marks leave by the punishment are deemed to be healed in the short run but the case is different when someone have already die because of inhumane punishment, in that case a ruler is of equivalent of small man who is a mean and unvirtuous one and should be avoided at all cost. Meanwhile it is noteworthy to put here the discussion between Confucius and his followers:

“What must we do to make people obedient?” Confucius replied “Promote the upright, place them above the crooked, and the people shall be obedient. Promote the crooked, place them above the upright, and the people shall be disobedient.”

“How do you make the people reverent, loyal, and mutually encouraging?” Confucius replied “If you preside over them with dignity, they will be reverent; if you are filial and loving, they will be loyal; if you promote the good and instruct the incapable, they will be mutually encouraging.”

The problem with the Duterte Administration is he rely too much on his Machiavellian principles and thus his judgement of his appointees was imprudent , simply because of his handful of crooked officials who are also hard-headed to the point that they speak impetuously just like their ruler. These individuals are considered small man since they fail their duty by neglecting their ethical and virtuous principles for Confucius said, “Keep wholehearted sincerity and truthfulness as your major principles. Do not befriend those beneath you. When you make a mistake, do not be afraid to correct it.” I encourage the youth of today to ask among yourselves on what this Machiavellian principles is leading us. Because I can only assure you that once a wrongful acts have been committed at the expense of the public apparently it cannot be undone. As Confucius put, “Young People are awe-inspiring. How do we know that in the future, they will not be so awe-inspiring as they are today? However, if at forty or fifty, they remain unheard of, they will no longer be awe-inspiring.”



Huang, C. (1997) The Analects of Confucius. Oxford University Press.

The Prince of Niccolo Machiavelli

My Experiences.







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